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Monday, September 26, 2016

University Sexual Assault Club Gets Suspended Sentence

I am currently reading a book published by Stone Bridge Press called Womansword... which I am pretty sure is meant to be read as 'womans word'... but I think could also be read as 'woman sword', because I think it just might be more appropriate. I’ll provide my thoughts on that when I’m done ready the book in its entirety—but essentially it points out that when you are a woman in Japan, you are a still a second-class citizen.

Case in point, the male-only members of a university molestation club essentially getting a slap on the wrist after a gang-sexual and physical assault of a woman.

We’re not talking about someone with low mental capacity has difficulty distinguishing right from wrong, we are talking about five Japanese men at one of Tokyo’s top universities who thought it would be cool to form a club and sexually-assault women gang-style.

Now… I don’t mean to imply that smart people don’t commit violent crimes. They’re the ones who think they can get away with it.

University of Tokyo student (I assume an ex-student now), 21-year-old Matsumi Kensuke (surname first) brought shame upon himself, his family, his victim and real men everywhere for—with four club cohorts—forcing a female University of Tokyo student to get drunk so that they could then sexually assault her.

Called the (translated) University of Tokyo Birthday Research Group, the club’s goals were to get women drunk and then molest them.

Who the fug has goals like that? How do you find other people who think like that and agree that this is a good idea? Posters put up around the campus? Friendly chatter talking to fellow students at the bar?

Seriously, if I heard something about forming a club that was harmful like that, I’d beat the crap out of them all.

Did not one of these people think - hey, that’s not cool.

And if these people heard about and joined the club, surely someone else who didn’t join, heard about the club.

Was it it all a smokescreen? Did the members who joined the University of Tokyo Birthday Research Group think there was actually going to be scientific research about birthdays, but when they found out it wasn’t thought - what the heck, I’m here anyways, let’s go abuse some women?

The club was formed in April of this year, with what was hopefully (sounds stupid) it’s first and only assault on a woman occurring in May of 2016.

May 11, 2016 - midnight - the group managed to coerce a female student to go with them, where they forced alcohol into he until she was fully intoxicated, forced her to strip.

They then groped her upper body.

They took turns lying atop her back and twisting her face around to kiss her.

Matsumi—along with being the ringleader—was accused of slapping her on the back numerous times, using a hair dryer to blow hot air on her genitals and pouring a cup of hot ramen noodles on her breasts.

I’m a pretty imaginative guy when it comes to consensual sexual relations between myself and a woman, but a cup of ramen noodles?!

That takes time to make. Did Matsumi say - hang on guys - you continue to squeeze and fondle her even while she resists, while I go and make some hot ramen noodles.

Did the others question why he wasn’t making a snack for them? Or did they already figure that Matsumi was a weird fug and that they figured he would pour the hot liquid on her breasts? Did he add the flavor packet? Was he that fugged up? I’m sorry - that sounds insensitive, but I’d like to know just how screwed up this guy’s mind really was.

So… while I am unsure just how long the physical assault continued on this poor person, and if it truly was just relegated to upper body attacks, without penetration of any kind… not that that matters as fare as the abject helplessness the victim felt and probably still feels, we can rest assure that Japan’s fantastic justice system will make things better.

Oh wait… is this the same Justice System that takes into account just how pathetically remorseful one is for he crimes (not helpful if you show defiance because you aren’t actually guilty)?

What did they do now?

Matsumi - the ring-leader - received two years in prison, suspended four years.

Presiding judge Shimada Hajime (surname first), when passing sentence agreed that Matsumi’s behavior was worthy worthy of strong condemnation because it disrespected the victim…

(did you see the …?)

However, judge Shimada says that because Matsumi had shown enough remorse for his actions, there was room for rehabilitation.

On September 20, 2016, another defendant—Komoto Taichi (surname first), 22—who was part of the sexual assault received 18 months in prison, suspended for three years.

Matsumoto Koko is reported to be another club member, standing trial under another judge.

Back in 2006, members of the Kyoto University American football team were convicted of forcing female university students to drink to the point of unconsciousness so they could rape them. Holy fug. What is wrong with people?! Committing a felony with all these witnesses around you… hell, not having the balls to stand up and say this is wrong? Oh that the race of men could sink so low.

Oh… and how about these beauts—the ring leader a former student from the famous Waseda University named Wada Shinchiro (surname first), who formed a rape club known as Super Free. It wasn’t just for one to rape a woman and then brag about it, no, it was the gang-rape mentality.

Should you have the stomach for it, I wrote about the Super Free rape club HERE.

Andrew Joseph
PS: If you are wondering about the photo above, Google "No Not Happy Birthday" and see the Warner Brother's cartoon. It's just about assault, not sexual assault.  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Japan’s National Parks: Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park

Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park (秩父多摩甲斐国立公園, Chichibu Tama Kai Kokuritsu Kōen) is one of Japan’s 32 National Parks—this 1,216 square kilometer park is located in the Kantō area of Japan at the intersection of Saitama-ken, Yamanashi-ken, Nagano-ken and Tokyo-ken. This is the last of six national parks in the Kantō region.

The lovely parkland encompasses five rivers, hiking trails, ancient shrines and lots of mountains, with eight of them inching over 2,000 meters in height.  The rivers are: Fufuki (富士川, Fuji-kawa or Fuji-gawa); Tama (多摩川, Tama-gawa); Ara (荒川, Ara-kawa); and  Shinano (信濃川,  Shinano-gawa) the longest river in Japan.

Approaching from Saitama-ken, sites to see include the Nakatsu Canyon (中津峡, Nakatsu-kyō), a 10-kilometer long ditch carved by the Nakatsu River - a tributary of the Ara-kawa. This is on the Saitama-ken part of the park. There’s also the Tochimoto Sekisho Historical Site (栃本関所跡, Tochimoto Sekisho-ato) with a small hamlet located there, retaining its feudal era look.

To be honest, the Tochimoto Sekisho Historical Site looks like any other place I've ever visited in Japan outside of Tokyo and Osaka. Image from
If you are coming from the Yamaashi-ken side, there’s the:
  • Daibosatsu Pass (大菩薩峠, Daibosatsu-tōge) that cuts through three mountains peaking at around 1,900 meters. Lots of flowers to see at certain times of the year;
  • Mitake Shosēn Gorge (御岳昇仙峡 Mitake Shosēn-kyō) carved by a tributary of the Fuefuki River - lots of birds in the gorge, plus the Shosēnkyō Museum of Art, which mainly displays shadow play (paper puppets) and kirigami (see HERE) exhibits. Oh… and apparently plenty of traffic jams;
  • Nishizawa Canyon (西沢渓谷, Nishizawa-keikoku) carved by the Fuefuki River, there are lots of stream pools, a nice walking trail, and plenty of waterfalls including Nanatsugama-godan Fall (七ツ釜五段ノ滝, Nanatsugama-Godan-no-Taki), one of the best 100 falls in Japan.
The Nanatsugama-godan Waterfall is one of the prettiest waterfalls in the world, in my opinion.
From Nagano, the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park has the Chikuma River Upstream Course (千曲川源流コース) through the mountains where in Mōkiba you can see azaleas in June and an entrance to the famous Jūmonji Pass (十文字峠)… no wait… the pass has nothing to do with that excellent Robin Williams movie. It goes right to Mount Kobushi (甲武信岳) which rises to 2,475 meters above sea level.

Jūmonji... pass. Image from
If you are coming from the Tokyo side, you can see Mount Mitake (a measly 929 meters high) and Mount Mito that’s 1,628 meters high and famous for its Fagus Japonica, which isn’t what I thought, as it is a species of tree known as the Japanese Blue Beech (Inubuna, aka ‘dog buna’).

Now, the smaller Mount Mitake is considered to be a sacred mountain where the shinto Musashi-Mitake Shrine (武蔵御嶽神社, Musashi Mitake Jinja) was first erected in 90 B.C. It houses a Zaōgonge statue made in 736AD… and since we are all lazier than the ancient Japanese, you can now take a cable car up to see it.

By the way… if you look up Zaōgonge on-line… there are four entries exactly the same, with NO explanation of just what the Zaōgonge statue is all about. There are 28 images in Google—but not one of them actually shows the statue.

So… since I may be working against myself by using English, if anyone out there can find me a link to an image or a description of what the hell the Zaōgonge statue is all about, it would be greatly appreciated.  

Andrew “One of the best 100 gaijin not currently living in Japan” Joseph
PS: Image at very top is from, showing the Mitake Shosēn Gorge.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Video Game Developer Gets Squeezed At Tokyo Trade Show

For video gamers trying out a new VR game—it was all about the chikan—sexual groping.

Maybe I have become a bit more prudish in my age, but needing to play a video game where one gets to grope a mannequin in order to get a reaction from a VR (virtual reality) anime female figure is just plain stupid.

As you can see above (the gamer obviously doesn’t know how to grope - not really), the animated figure in the back (the video game) looks like a high school student.

I understand the difference between fantasy and reality, but I am worried that many people do not.

Not everyone has a firm grasp on reality, as you can see every time you look at the news.

This action at last week’s Tokyo Game Show was actually halted by show organizers probably because they are involved in trade shows, and not specifically just video games.

I like video games. I just bought one for the far superior PS3 system (who wants to pay $80 for a PS4 video game and then have to pay (on-line charges) to play it?

I like women, too, but again who wants to pay to play?

But… when software developer M2 Co had their exhibition booth set up so visitors could snap on a set of VR glasses and then touch the mannequin to make the it seem as though the gamer was successfully grabbing high school girl boob—well… that’s just wrong.

According to M2 Co, the demonstration was to show how it can turn flat images into 3D images… uh… I’m pretty sure that’s been done for many years and years now.

That was their reasoning to create a chikan/molestor video game demonstrator.

And… what is equally disheartening, is the fact that so many people (men) lined up to get their pervert on before complaints caused the demo to be shut down.

Now… lest we jump all over the video game industry, the Tokyo Game Show’s exhibitors—including Sony Corp.—pretty much had just family-rated entertainment in mind, as most companies showed off their VR games and tech.

Although… the Tokyo Game Show did offer up a bunch of scantily-clad women—booth babes—at many exhibitor stands.

Having organized the participation of exhibitors at some 350 different annual trade shows around the world over a 13-year period, I can honestly state that not once had one of my clients ever asked for a booth babe.

I did see a few at a trade show here in Toronto about eight years ago, but that practice is now on the wane.

Hey - I’m all for people earning a few bucks legally dressed up (I would imagine that got its start at auto shows), but there must be better ways.

Sadly at the Tokyo Game Show, touching the mannequin boob was about as close to reality as it was going to get.

Andrew Joseph

Friday, September 23, 2016

Japan's National Parks: Jōshin'etsu-kōgen National Park

From the tropical islands that make up the Ogasawara National Park (see HERE), to the swampy bogs of Oze National Park (HERE), the splendor of the temples and shrines of Nikkō National Park (HERE), and the almost believable existence of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park (HERE), we go now to the mountainous grandeur of the Jōshin'etsu-kōgen National Park (上信越高原国立公園 Jōshin'etsu-kōgen Kokuritsu Kōen).

All of these parks mentioned above are located in the Kanto area of Japan, with the Jōshin'etsu-kōgen National Park situated around the active and dormant volcanoes in the mountainous part of Gunma-ken, Nagano-ken and Niigata-ken, with the name of the park derived from the two mountain ranges that physically make up the park.

Jōshin'etsu represents the old names of the prefectures (provinces/states) in the area:
  • Kōzuke-ken (上野国) in present-day Gunma-ken;
  • Shinano-ken (信濃国) in present-day Nagano-ken;
  • Echigo-ken (越後国) in present-day Niigata-ken;
  • Kōgen, means plateau, or mesa.
Established in 1949, and expanded in 1956 to include the mountainous Myōkō-Togakushi area, Jōshin'etsu-kōgen National Park covers an expansive area of 1,890.62 square kilometers (729.97 square miles).

What is there to see at Jōshin'etsu-kōgen National Park? Well, assuming you like hiking, there are plenty of mountainous areas to explore. Hiking not your bag? Try mountain climbing… or skiing… or to rest those weary muscles, lots of onsen (hot springs) to settle into.

Mountains to see include:

Southern Niigata/North Nagano Area (新潟南西部・長野北部, Niigata Nanseibu, Nagano Hokubu area:
  • Mount Myōkō (妙高山, Myōkō-san, at 2,454 meters (8,051 feet) high, the active volcano is one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains;
  • Mount Kurohime is 2,053 meters (6,736 feet) high;
  • Mount Iizuna (飯縄山, Iizuna-yama) is 1,917 meters (6,289 feet) high, and legend has it that there is a strange edible sand somewhere there that the tengu would give to the hungry people during times of poor harvest. It was also the site for the 1998 Winter Olympics’ bobsled and luge track events;
  • Mount Togakushi is 1,911 meters (6,270 feet) high. At the base, ther's the Togakushi Shrine (戸隠神社, Togakushi Jinja) shinto shrine—a melange of five shrines located about two kilometers apart for each other.
Mount Myōkō from the northeast - in the winter, obviously.
 Southwest Mikuni Mountain Range Area (三国山脈南西部 Mikuni Sanmyaku Nanseibu area:
  • Mount Tanigawa (谷川岳, Tanigawa-dake) is 1,963 meters (6,440 feet) high, and it is part of the 100 Famous Mountains of Japan, and has had 805 people die upon it since the 1930s. For reference’s sake, just over 200 people have died while climbing Mt. Everest since then);
  • Mount Kusatsu-Shirane (草津白根山, Kusatsu Shirane-san) is a 2160-meter (7,093-feet) high active volcano featuring a series of overlapping volcanic cones with three crater lakes, the largest—Yu-gama—is an acidic, tourquoise-colored lake with yellow sulphur floating on it. It is beautiful, despite its grossness. That's a photo of it at the very top of this blog;
  • Mount Asama (浅間山, Asama-yama) is an active complex volcano, and the most active volcano in the Honshu area. It is 2,550 meters (8,3705 feet) high, and last had a big eruption (Auto Correct changed it to “erection”) in February of 2009, but continues to have small eruptions and shakes even now. It is one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains.   
The triple cone threat of Mount Kusatsu-Shirane.
 While I am sure I would enjoy visiting the Jōshin'etsu-kōgen National Park for a chance to find and eat some mythical edible sand and capture a tengu, I would settle for a chance to view that acidic Yu-gama lake up on Mount Kusatsu-Shirane.

Jōshin'etsu-kōgen National Park is rife with active volcanoes, and having climbed a much smaller one near my hometown, even ignoring the fact that it was a tiring climb—I was in shape then and ready to impress my girlfriend who had obviously invoked the spirit of a mountain goat for that trip—the hot venting steam, the quick weather changes from warm sunshine to blinding, dense fog in minutes is both worrisome and cool.

Jōshin'etsu-kōgen National Park sounds like a thrill-seeker's Japanese paradise.

FYI, you may have noticed that sometimes these mountains are called 'yama' (山 in Japanese), and other times 'san'. Yama is indeed the Japanese term for 'mountain', but the special mountains are provided with an honorific of 'san'...

While the Japanese do indeed add 'san' to names implying an honorific of Mister or Mrs., in this case it can be traced back to 山... which in Chinese, is pronounced "san".

Confused? All of those damn mountains have the kanji symbol of 山, except when they have the original Chinese symbol (from which kanji was borrowed/stolen from) of 山. San in Japanese, Yama in the Chinese language. I am unsure WHICH Chinese language, however.
I don't know about any edible sand on Mount Iizuna, but that is the second-largest swan I have ever seen swimming upon
Lake Daizahoushi.
Andrew Joseph

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Japanese Spy And Pearl Harbor

Hitler said “thank-you” to Yoshikawa Takeo.

Yoshikawa (surname) was a Japanese spy who not only helped Germany destroy many British transport ships on a mission, he played a huge role in helping the Japanese plan out their attack on Pearl Harbor in the months before their attack on the U.S. naval base on Oahu, Hawaii.

Born Yoshikawa Takeo (吉川 猛夫) on March 17, 1914 in Matsuyama-shi, Ehime-ken, after graduating top of his class rom the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy (海軍兵学校 Kaigun Heigakkō situated in Etajima, Hiroshima) in 1933, he was posted aboard the lead armored cruisers Asama for training, along with various submarines.

After beginning training as a naval pilot in 1934 Yoshikawa developed some sort of stomach ailment (ulcers, maybe?) that halted his training, eventually causing his discharge from the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1936.

As a patriot, not being able to serve his country left Yoshikawa despondent and suicidal―but that all changed in 1937.

Working at Navy Headquarters in Tokyo, Yoshikawa became involved in Intelligence work, quickly becoming an expert in all things U.S.Navy, and, of course, studying English. He also immersed himself in Jane’s Fighting Ships―like its yearly reports on aviation, this book was and is the be-all for naval data, including sizes, armaments, personnel, etc. He also memorized the silhouettes of all U.S. ships. 

Yashikawa said: “Since I had been studying English, I was assigned to the sections dealing with the British and American navies. I became the Japanese navy’s expert on the American navy. I read everything; diplomatic reports from our attachés, secret reports from our agents around the world. I read military commentators like [New York Times military affairs editor] Hanson Baldwin. I read history too. Like the works of Mahan, the famous American admiral.”

See, kids? Figure out what you want to do and learn all you can on the subject.

It was while at the Naval intelligence unit that Yashikawa intercepted a shortwave message in early 1940―in non-scrambled English―noting that 17 British troop ships had moved past Freetown, Sierra Leone in west Africa and were sailing back to port in England.

Because Germany was already at war with Great Britain, and Japan was already on friendly terms with the Nazi regime, he passed the information along to the German Embassy in Tokyo.

After the Germans destroyed many of these waylaid British transports, Adolf Hitler sent Yoshikawa a letter of thanks.

Japan, seeing Yoshikawa’s potential decided to send him to send him to Hawaii to do some work there.

Except… he didn’t go as Yoshikawa, he went as Morimura Tadashi (surname first), arriving on March 27, 1941 aboard the Nitta Maru liner at Pier 8 in Oahu, Hawaii.

Described as being of medium height and slim, with long combed back black hair, the 29-year-old Morimura/Yoshikawa had a lei of welcome placed around his shoulders by Japanese Consulate vice-consul Okuda Otojiro, rather than some sexy Hawaiian babe in a grass skirt.

After a visit to the consulate, Morimura/Yoshikawa talked to consul general Kita Nagao (surname first), who made introductions around the place, explaining that he was the new chancellor―a cover, of course, known only by Morimura/Yoshikawa, Kita and Okuda.

Japan Consulate General in Honolulu (today).
At that time, Hawaii was home to some 160,000 people of Japanese descent, and despite Hawaii being a protectorate nation under the United States and still its own country, it was incredibly easy for Morimura/Yoshikawa to blend in to do his real work as a spy.

Now, you might think that with so many people of Japanese-origin then living in Hawaii, it would have been easy for Morimura/Yoshikawa to coerce the locals for information, but he says that the “men of influence and character who might have assisted me in my secret mission were unanimously uncooperative.” (Takeo Yoshikawa and Norman Stanford (December 1960). "Top Secret Assignment". U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings.) 

So… he couldn’t find anyone willing to do his dirty work for him. He pretty much did it all himself.

I say pretty much, because it is known that we did work alongside Bernard Kuehn of German military intelligence group the Abwehr, as well as Seki Kokichi (surname first) who worked as the Japanese consulate treasurer who doubled as an untrained spy.

After being supplied with a second-story apartment over looking Pearl Harbor,  Morimura/Yoshikawa began scouting the island of Oahu making notes of the U.S. Navy’s fleet movements, as well as its security measures.

He even rented small airplanes from the local John Ridgers Airport and flew around the island to check out U.S. installations.

Did you know he even went swimming in Pearl Harbor’s harbor, using a hollow reed as a breathing device?

While Morimura/Yoshikawa did not know of any upcoming plans to attack Pearl Harbor, he still sent his reports to Japan’s Foreign Ministry and then to the Imperial Navy via the Purple encoding machine (see HERE) from the consulate… because you never know. 

Japan didn’t know, however, that the U.S. had broken the Purple code, and thus knew what was going on, but the communications between the consulate and Tokyo were still considered unimportant because none seemed to be dangerous.

But they should have been.

One message sent and intercepted on September 2, 1941 from Tokyo to the consulate asked for the location and number of warships in five distinct sectors of Pearl Harbor ( a grid).

Wow… so the U.S. knew all about the Japanese thinking about doing something nefarious as early as three months before Japan’s so-called surprise attack.

Except they didn’t know.

Despite the rest of the world being at war, the U.S. wasn’t at this time.

There were staff shortages, and other files deemed more important to decrypt that this message sent to Kita, and thus to Morimura/Yoshikawa, wasn’t actually decoded until the middle of October.

Great, so there’s still two months of advanced warning, right?

Uh… no. The message was seen as unimportant… who cares if Tokyo was asking for details on where it keeps its ships at Pearl Harbor.

Now… you might have though that the September 2, 1941 message request was just a one-off… maybe it was… but Morimura/Yoshikawa was sending twice-weekly reports back to Japan.

It was this information that Japanese Imperial Navy admiral Yamamoto Isoroku utilized to finalize his plans to attack the U.S. military installation at Pearl Harbor.

To protect their  spy, Japan sent out a code phrase within a shortwave news broadcast from Tokyo: “East win, rain”.

Whether Morimura/Yoshikawa knew that meant attack was imminent, he did mean he was supposed to destroy all evidence of what he had been up to.

On December 7, 1941 when waves of Japanese aircraft launched from aircraft carriers in the Pacific Ocean bombed the crap out of Pearl Harbor, its fleet and navy personnel, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) stopped by Morimura/Yoshikawa’s place to have a chat—but found nothing incriminating at his residence, or upon his person.

They let him go, without charging him—though I doubt they could have considering he would have had diplomatic immunity.

A very detailed map of Pearl Harbor and locations of its fleet, found in a captured midget Japanese submarine shortly after the attack.
Morimura/Yoshikawa stayed in Oahu until August of 1942, when he was part of a diplomat prisoner exchange with Japan.

Morimura/Yoshikawa continued to work for Japan’s naval intelligence office throughout the war, but no special mention was ever made for the unfortunately great spywork he had done and provided. He married upon his return home.

While no one in the U.S. was aware of his role in the attack on Pearl Harbor, when the war ended and U.S. forces began to occupy Japan, Morimura/Yoshikawa went into hiding—leaving his wife—for fear he would be recognized and punished for his role leading up to the U.S. inclusion in WWII.

Hiding out as a Buddhist monk in the countryside, Morimura/Yoshikawa only returned to his wife and two kids when the U.S. occupation ended on April 28, 1952. Now that was a patient wife.

By 1955, he opened up a candy business, but after rumors spread about his true role in Japan’s embarrassing war, the business quickly failed. Japanese people blamed him for the war… for their son’s and daughters having died… lives lost.

Says Yoshikawa: “They even blamed me for the atomic bomb.”

However, his role as a spy was not revealed to the U.S. until 1960. He was, by then, angry and bitter with Japan. He was broke and had to rely on the wife’s selling of insurance, as the Japanese government did not provide him with a pension, let alone any honors.

I’m unsure what was worse for him.

Knowing he was on the losing side of a war?

His country not looking after one who was dedicated to it helping give it THE major advantage in the war? Apparently when he went to apply for a pension, he was told they had never heard of him. When he explained he had been a spy working in Hawaii, he was simply informed that Japan had never spied on anyone.  

His wife having to be the breadwinner.


While Yoshikawa believed that only his wife showed him the proper respect as a hero of Japan, he did in a nursing home still bitter and still without any money, on February 20, 1993 at the age of 78.

Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Japan’s National Parks: Ogasawara National Park

For reasons unknown to me, I have actually written quite a bit about the Ogasawara area of Japan—a portion of Japan that I bet the vast majority of the country’s population has ever visited, let alone given much thought to.

Welcome to Ogasawara National Park (小笠原国立公園, Ogasawara Kokuritsu Kōen) located within the Ogasawara Islands—also known as the Bonin Islands—occupying 66.29 square kilometers of space some one thousand kilometers south of Tokyo - interesting enough, these islands are part of Tokyo’s political domain.

First off… the Ogasawara Islands/Bonin Islands consist of 30 subtropical and tropical islands. Bonin, is derived from an archaic word “bunin", meaning no people—uninhabited. However, there are two islands, Chichijima (父島) and Hahajima (母島), that are inhabited.

The Ogasawara National Park consists of some of those islands: Chichijima, Hahajima, Mukojima and one of the three so-called Three Volcanic islands: Kita Iwo Jima (北硫黄島, North Sulphur Island); Iwo Jima (硫黄島, Sulphur Island); and Minami Iwo Jima 南硫黄島, South Sulphur Island)—with Kita Iwo Jima ONLY being part of the park.

I see you recognize Iwo Jima—isle where the greatest battles of WWII on Japanese soil took place. The U.S. took it to pretty much end the war, but cleaning it out from a Japanese army that refused to surrender—that caused the U.S. to suffer more casualties of the next few months than those suffered by the Japanese.  Now you know what Iwo Jima means... sulphur island... that's gotta suck on so many different levels.  

After the U.S. finally returned the islands to Japan in 1968 after ‘holding on to them’ for Japan since WWII, Ogasawara National Park was established on October 16, 1972.

There’s probably not a heck of a lot to do at this park, but if you are a naturalist (keep your clothes on, buddy)… I mean someone interested in nature, if you were the type who has to see everything, you should note that there are 441 recorded native plants (most rare and only found here)…. and maybe you can spot a critically-endangered Bonin Flying Fox (a species of fruit bat), or the endemic Ogasawara Snake-Eyed Skink. Skinks look like snakes… but with legs! See HERE.
  • There are 195 known bird species on the island—14 of which are threatened;
  • 1,380 insect species (379 endemic);
  • 134 species land snails (100 endemic);
  • 40 species of freshwater fish;
  • 23 types cetaceans (whales, eh); 
  • 795 species of saltwater fish;
  • 226 species of hermatypic coral. 
… so… kindda cool. Just watch where you step… snails…

If I had a girl child, I would have named her Coral. True story. Here we see some aquatic life amongst the coral at Ogasawara National Park - notice how clean and clear the water is? 

I’ve never been to these islands, but… I would like to see the Ogasawara National Park.

Andrew "Loves escargot" Joseph

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Japan May Have The World’s Oldest Fishhooks

I never actually think about fishing, until someone invites me along and I enjoy the heck out of it. One of my favorite television programs is River Monsters, a science and fishing show by angler extraordinaire Jeremy Wade. Hee… wade.

Some of the more memorable times I have gone fishing include going salmon fishing with a Mohawk chief here in Canada, with Michael Hutchison in Japan, and with my Dad at a pond north west of Toronto.

At no time did I physically catch a fish, but there were a few battles.

Most of my fishing attempts have been spent unraveling knotted up line in the reel or untangling myself from a submerged tree trunk or algae, or wondering just how the hell I could hook myself in my own hand, then my back, and then my father’s shoulder.

So… maybe I don’t enjoy fishing as much as I enjoy drowning worms, but whatever. This story is what is known as “the hook”.

A few years ago, fishing hooks made up of the shells of sea snails were found in the Sakitari Cave on the southern end of Okinawa, Japan.
Sakitari Cave, Okinawa, Japan
It took a while, but scientists now agree that these fishhooks, which were ground into shape to look like a crescent moon, are about 23,000 years-old, which makes them the oldest fishing gear in the world… or at least as old as similar fishhooks found in Timor.

I would assume since there was more than just one old fishhook found within the Sakitari Cave, that it didn't simply wash in there with a flooding, but rather it was because it was used by the cave dwellers who kept their fishing tools safe in there.   

Keep in mind, that these are simply the oldest fishhooks that have been found to date. No one is suggesting that the Okinawans et al discovered fishing with hooks.
From left: World's oldest fishhook; a partially-finished fishhook of the same age; a shell fragment of the same vintage from which the fishhooks would have been made.
While it is indeed kind of cool to know that the old Okinawans and Timbor(ians?) though a hook shape would work to catch fish—such as eel or parrotfish—just like what we would use today if we were in the mood to impale a worm and then drown it.

On the plus side, the old hooks look far less penetrating in one’s thumb than today’s barbed river monstrosities.

Andrew Joseph